Funny how as soon as someone goes against the grain or the flow of things, they get ostracized out their ‘community’. I have come across a few individuals who have experienced this in many arenas, including burlesque. So I decided to discover why this is…
I have been on this ‘journey’ to see how burlesque has affected individuals and their world and why certain beliefs are excluded. But more importantly, how the world and society has affected burlesque. I have interviewed some interesting performers and have come to the conclusion that the burlesque ‘community’ varies from city to city. I have heard negative and positive about burlesque in major burlesque cities such as Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York and I believe all of it to be true. Every city has their ‘bad seeds’ and every city has their ‘good eggs’. But I think what I have learned is this-Burlesque is just as caddy as any other female organized profession or group. This is taught at a young age and continues through out our adults lives. And that’s ok…it’s not bad or good. It is what it is. You, as a person and individual, have to decide if your career is going to be part of that drama.
I know many will not agree with my blog, but it is MY blog. So it’s my thoughts and experiences and information compiled from my interviews I have done. I try not to make assumptions, because you know what that does (in case you don’t-It makes an ASS out of YOU and ME!). I like research and defined information. I don’t like rumors, gossip, or sophomoric drama. And I TRY MY BEST to stay out of it. But like everyone else, I am human. I make mistakes. I get mixed up in the drama of it all. What makes a difference is when we can own up to our mistakes, to our drama, and to our hurtful actions. Being a bitch will get you no where!
There are individuals I have talked to that don’t think there is anything ‘wrong’ with the burlesque world. Then again, I spoke to those who think it excludes those that don’t follow the ‘set standards’ of what burlesque is SUPPOSE to be (a white, not TOO curvaceous, minimal dance, ‘straight-looking/acting, glamour or rockabilly woman). I have been in both world of thinking and agree with both concepts to an extent.
Many will say that burlesque is a family, community based ‘organization’. From what I gather, it depends on the city you are in. Then again, it depends on the sector of burlesque you happen to be in (queer, rockabilly, glamour…). It appears that the support is very prevalent within those certain categories. Not so much when it’s combined. For instance…some of the statements I have heard are-
“I have been turned away because I was told I was too fat…but I have been an accomplished burlesque performer with great training for years.”
“Because I am not considered burlesque by the local burlesque celebrities, I have not been able to get booked.”
” ‘Mainstream’ burlesque performers RARELY come to queer burlesque events because in their eyes it’s not true burlesque. It’s just stage art.”
“I have always wanted to perform burlesque, but have been told to ‘change my look’ before trying.”
On the flip side, I have also heard the following-
“I love burlesque! It’s a real sisterhood.”
“Burlesque allows me to express myself the way other art forms can’t”
“Since I came into burlesque, I have gotten nothing but love and many of the performers are willing to help me.”
“I have not noticed anything on the side of cliques or caddy groups. Only respect and love.”
Ok. Now I will say that it was eye opening to see the ‘type’ of person and performer that would make these statements. Most of the ones who felt the business was just fine and very welcoming were those that fell into societies view of beautiful (not-too-ethnic, not-too-fat, classic, glamour).
As far as I am concerned, I have experienced both sides of the coin. I have been welcomed by many greats in the business with welcome and open arms. Advice being given to me without issues and playing it straight with me. Then, I have also seen the support only go so far within the genres of burlesque style.
I love this art. It is my passion. It is my drive. I support anyone who wants burlesque to go for it. I DO NOT support those that are caddy and act as if THEY are burlesque. Only a few of those exist and they damn sure they know but don’t act like it. But burlesque should be a TRUE community. Some of the women I spoke with became tearful because their feelings were hurt, they’re self worth was tested, and/or they just couldn’t understand some of the negativity that they experienced. Things as simple as being excluded from a burlesque craft night or not being asked to perform because of a personal issue.
This same art that I love so much has also opened my eyes to many things that I was blinded to before. Many enjoy walking with blinders on, that way they can live in their little world and and never deal with the real world and real world issues.
I respect those performers and producers that PURPOSELY try to include people of color, people of size, and queer entertainers. They want a diverse and well rounded show. They want an entertaining show with a good representation of all backgrounds. I don’t believe in sacrificing good talent and skill just because they are a minority, but please, please, please include our sisters and brothers that have talent and that are also a minority. Not to mention, speaking with guests of burlesque shows…many don’t want to see the same body type, the same style, and/or the same kind of performer in a show. Most enjoy variety and want to get the most out of their money. That means more then having the ‘token’ curvy girl or the ‘token’ black chick or the ‘token’ alternative show. But really mixing it up to make everyone feel included.
There is enough burlesque to go around…
TO BE CONTINUED